January 1st, 2007


For some reason, there was a large fireworks display near our house. At first I thought I heard the gunfire I'd been conditioned to expect living in places like Oakland and Vallejo in California. But it was too loud. So I went outside to watch, seeking a brief respite from the taut atmosphere inside the house, where my partner was -- and is -- working on an extremely tedious portion of what is already an extremely tedious task. Even though I was enjoying the show, I still felt bad for her. I often stay up late grading, which hardly qualifies as an activity I derive pleasure from, but it still beats the sort of detail work she's doing right now. And that means that the danger of indoor fireworks is high, as will surely be the case for most of the month to come. It's hardly an auspicious beginning to the new year. On the other hand, there's always the chance that 2007 will turn out to be better than 2006. To be honest, it wouldn't take a lot. While 2006 was marginally better than 2005, both years rank towards the bottom of my list. The period from 1978-1982 was my previous low point, a stretch in which I lost both my paternal grandparents and paternal aunt, had to move from a place I loved to a place I could barely stand, and was forced to attend two new schools at the worst possible time in my adolescence. The last two years have had more happy moments than that period, certainly, but have also been full of professional and personal stress that I was immune to in my junior-high years. At least I've managed to stay healthy so far this winter, which is more than I can say for the previous two. I'm sure my late-night bicycle riding has been a factor, so my first resolution is to continue working to improve my respiratory system through exercise. I should probably take a break tonight, though, given the likelihood of there being inebriated drivers on the roads. Stay tuned for my "Year in Music," which I will be posting later today. And, lest I forget, "Happy New Year!"

Nothing More Than a Piece of Meat

Here's a heartwarming story about man's not-so-good friends in the feline ranks:
"He's always scared that there are tigers under the bed at night, so this confirmed his suspicions," Chari said. "Now he wants the light on, and he wants me to go in with him."

Nonetheless, he said he feels more unnerved than Krishna does.

"He said when we left the zoo, 'The next time, let's see the penguins being fed instead of a tiger eating a woman.' I did not want to scare him by saying that this was unusual."

If Tatiana behaved the way Krishna thought a tiger would act, her savagery was also in line with what big-cat experts expect and fear.

"They can inflict real severe damage, if not kill you, because they are trained to do that," said Ronald Tilson, director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, near Minneapolis. "They are unpredictable and they have all of the accessories to get the job done. Anything can set them off. They can wake up having just a bad hair day. And they see mammals as nothing more than a piece of meat."
While this is a harrowing tale, I can't help but find humor in the way it is related. For one thing, I'm imagining a zoo where one of the daily attractions would be feeding someone to the big cats. That would definitely lure big crowds.

As I Might Reply, Heedless of Logic, "Unglaublicher!"

Throw in the overtime period and that has to rank as the most sustained improbable ending that I've ever seen to a football game. Man, you have to give it to Boise State. The play-calling at the end was so bold it gave me goosebumps that have yet to diminish. Let's here it for the non-BCS conferences. How sweet for the season-sealing victory to come against big, bad Oklahoma and its annoyingly whiny coach. Double wow!

Show Him the Money

And Fox is using a Bob Mould song to promote their new season of shows. I'm fine with that. People who have worked as hard as he has deserve a little financial security. As Joe Strummer once said, hearing a good song on a commercial can give you a lift. It may not be ideologically pure, but so what?